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Democracy Watch calls on Lobbying Commissioner to ensure independent investigation of questions concerning Kevin Lynch and SNC-Lavalin lobbying

Lobbying Commissioner Nancy Bélanger biased as she was handpicked by Trudeau through secretive, PMO-controlled process – so should not investigate situation

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

OTTAWA – Today, Democracy Watch released the letter it has sent to Commissioner of Lobbying Nancy Bélanger requesting that she ensure an independent investigation and ruling on whether former Clerk of the Privy Council Kevin Lynch violated the Lobbying Act and the Lobbyists’ Code of Conduct by failing to register as a lobbyist for SNC-Lavalin.

According to an article published yesterday by the Hill Times, Mr. Lynch is very likely paid more than his expenses as Chair of the Board of SNC-Lavalin, and as a result he would be required by the Lobbying Act to register any lobbying he has done for the company in the Registry of Lobbyists as a consultant lobbyist.

According to the recent testimony of Mr. Lynch’s former government colleague and now-Clerk of the Privy Council Michael Wernick before the House of Commons Justice Committee, Mr. Lynch called him last October to see what could be done to reverse the decision by the Director of Public Prosecutions to prosecute SNC-Lavalin for bribery of government officials in Libya.

Any paid lobbying by a consultant lobbyist “in respect of” a government decision is required to be disclosed in the Registry. Mr. Lynch’s phone call is not in the Registry. As a result, Democracy Watch’s letter requests an investigation of all of Mr. Lynch’s communications with federal government officials back to when he became a board member of SNC-Lavalin in May 2017.

Democracy Watch’s letter also requests an investigation into whether SNC-Lavalin CEO Neil Bruce violated the Lobbyists’ Code by not taking effective steps, as the responsible senior officer for the company, to ensure Mr. Lynch’s lobbying was registered.

As well, if the conclusion of the investigations is that Mr. Lynch lobbied for SNC-Lavalin without registering, or other unregistered lobbying by anyone connected to SNC-Lavalin is uncovered, Democracy Watch letter requests an investigation of all of SNC-Lavalin’s lobbying back to 2014.

Democracy Watch’s letter also requests that Commissioner Bélanger delegate the investigations and rulings to a provincial ethics or lobbying commissioner who has no ties to any political party. Commissioner Bélanger was handpicked by Prime Minister Trudeau through a secretive, PMO-controlled process, and has also made several public statements that she believes lobbyists are good and that public officials should be trusted.

For these reason, Democracy Watch’s position is the Commissioner Bélanger is biased against enforcing the Lobbying Act and Lobbyists’ Code effectively, especially in situations involving the Trudeau Cabinet. Democracy Watch has challenged Commissioner Bélanger’s appointment, and also challenged one of her rulings, in Federal Court.

“An independent investigation of Kevin Lynch’s communications with Trudeau Liberal government officials on behalf of SNC-Lavalin is needed to determine whether the lobbying disclosure law or lobbyists’ code were violated,” said Duff Conacher, Co-founder of Democracy Watch. “Given that she was handpicked by Trudeau through a secretive, PMO-controlled process, the Lobbying Commissioner is in a conflict of interest in dealing with this situation and so must delegate the investigation to a person who is independent of her and all political parties.”

The Lobbying Act was required to be reviewed by the House Ethics Committee last year, and the Committee will hopefully finally undertake the review in the next couple of months. See details about the changes needed to close loopholes and strengthen enforcement and penalties for the Lobbying Act and Lobbyists’ Code of Conduct here.

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Duff Conacher, Co-founder of Democracy Watch
Tel: (613) 241-5179 Cell: 416-546-3443
[email protected]

Democracy Watch’s Government Ethics Campaign